Feb 28, London: Welcoming the report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka, the British Government said today that it supports the High Commissioner's call for an international investigation into Sri Lanka.
In response to the publication of the report, Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire in a statement said that the British Government shares her concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and the lack of progress on accountability.
Swire said the British Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and he gave the message to Sri Lanka during their visit to the island last November that UK government attaches great importance to lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
According to the British Minister, the UK government is concerned with the undermining of independent institutions such as the judiciary in Sri Lanka, a 'significant surge' in attacks on religious minorities, reports of sexual harassment and violations, continuation of impunity, continued militarization of former conflict areas and the continuing trend of restrictions on freedom of expression and association.
"It is deeply disappointing to note that the government of Sri Lanka have not taken any of the steps recommended following the High Commissioner's visit in August 2013, and that they have failed to accept all offers of technical assistance on accountability from the UN," Swire said in his statement.
He said the UK will however, continue to study closely both the report and the response of the Sri Lankan government over the coming weeks while agreeig with the High Commissioner's assessment that the Sri Lankan government has 'failed to ensure independent and credible investigations into past violations of international human rights and humanitarian law' on both sides during the civil war.
"We therefore strongly support her call for an international investigation," Swire said.
"We agree that the failure of national accountability mechanisms is also 'fundamentally a question of political will', rather than the result of a lack of technical capacity, which has been offered repeatedly to the government of Sri Lanka by the international community," the Minister noted.
He further said the international community now has a duty to act, and the UK will be using our position on the UN Human Rights Council to actively press for an international investigation given the lack of a credible domestic accountability process to date.
"We acknowledge and welcome the progress which has been made by the government of Sri Lanka in areas including the reintegration of child soldiers, demining, and reconstruction of conflict affected areas. However, it is our strong belief that, without a credible investigation in to these very serious allegations of the past, it will be very difficult for the Sri Lankan people to move forward in the true spirit of lasting peace, reconciliation and unity and for Sri Lanka to reach its true potential."
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said today the domestic mechanisms to address the concerns the international community are progressing to the best of the government's ability and the UK and Canada are motivated to relentlessly pursue Sri Lanka by the politics and Tamil diaspora votes in their constituencies.